It never fails. Every summer I anxiously await the first of the red, ripe tomatoes from our backyard garden. Then just as we’re packing for vacation, the plants begin to bear fruit in earnest.
I thought of this speedy solution a few years ago and have repeated it many times in order to deal with an over-abundance of tomatoes and to provide a tasty and versatile sauce throughout the winter months.
Much of what I freeze throughout the summer gets stored in an extra freezer in our basement. One day towards the end of last winter, my husband noticed that the door had been left ajar. Everything—including five or six containers of this flavorful sauce—had thawed.
Sadly, I had to pitch a lot, but the sauce was cold enough to salvage. I kept what I could use in a week’s time and gave the rest away.
My original intention wasn’t to create a fancy sauce. I just wanted to avoid tomato spoilage and, in the process, create a convenient, flavorful option to basic canned tomato sauce. So I was thrilled when one grateful recipient requested the recipe because her daughter enjoyed eating it as soup!
The very first time I made this, I had already given away a good portion of our tomato bounty in advance of our departure, but I still ended up with six pounds of tomatoes in my pot. The harvest from a few prolific plants can be impressive!
Six pounds of tomatoes cooks down into approximately two quarts of sauce, and I like to freeze the sauce in a variety of container sizes. Having some 8-ounce containers on hand when a recipe calls for a mere cup of sauce is a welcome convenience.
The real beauty of this recipe is that it eliminates the time-consuming, tedious task of peeling and seeding the tomatoes. The blender creates a smooth base that cooks down to a velvety sauce, and no one will notice a single seed or piece of skin. I actually think the skins enhance the flavor.
Because we plant a variety of tomatoes, I use a variety in my sauce. Though plum tomatoes or a mix of varieties work especially well, use what you have, and simply simmer until thick.
If you prefer more oregano, a hint of basil, some black pepper, or even the flavor of bell pepper, add it. It’s hard to go wrong when you start with fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes. And you absolutely don’t have to be going on vacation to justify making this savory shortcut sauce!
UPDATE: I just made a batch using 6 pounds of grape tomatoes. (You should see the monster plant in my garden!) It worked beautifully and the yield was greater–most likely because there is a lower overall water content. I got exactly 2 quarts and 3 cups of sauce from this batch.
Helpful guide if you don’t have a scale:
- One small tomato weighs 3 to 4 ounces.
- One medium tomato weighs 5 to 6 ounces.
- Large tomatoes can weigh 7 ounces or more.
- One pint of grape tomatoes weighs approximately 14 ounces.
Yields approximately 2 quarts (8 cups).
- 6 pounds tomatoes (no need to remove the skin or seeds; see notes)
- 1 yellow onion
- 6-8 garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano (may substitute 2 tablespoons fresh, minced)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
Remove the tomato stems and any bruised areas or white core, and then cut into chunks. Peel the onion and the garlic, and roughly chop.
Place the tomatoes, onion, and garlic in a blender (in batches, if necessary), and blend until smooth. The mixture may remind you of a pink milkshake at this point.
Transfer to a large, heavy-bottomed pot, bring to a simmer, and then reduce the heat to the point where the sauce maintains a slow simmer (uncovered). Stir in the olive oil, salt, oregano, and sugar, and let simmer for 60-90 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the sauce has thickened nicely.
Serve immediately or allow to cool thoroughly. Once cool, refrigerate or freeze for later use. When freezing, consider using an assortment of container sizes to match a variety of future recipe needs.
- Any variety of vine-ripened tomatoes will work. I typically use a combination of regular, plum, and cherry tomatoes–and a few yellow when I have them. Total simmering time will vary based on the variety of tomatoes used, as plum tomatoes tend to have less liquid and regular, round varieties are usually more watery.
- If you happen to have a piece of Parmesan rind on hand, add it to the pot. It’s delicious! Leftover Parmesan rind can be stored in the freezer for convenient use in soups and sauces such as this one.
- This recipe may be made without the olive oil, but it does enhance the flavor while providing heart-healthy fats.
- The last time I made this sauce, I used two teaspoons of sugar instead of one to see how that affected the taste. I thought it was a little too much, so I added a teaspoon of white wine vinegar to offset it. My husband was particularly complimentary of that batch and asked if I included meat. You may try this variation if you like, but I stuck with my original recipe above–it has the official family stamp of approval.